How Sleep Protects Your Child From Obesity

How Sleep Protects Your Child From Obesity

Rock-a-bye Baby may seem like a harsh lyric to sing as you put a child to sleep (“When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall/and down will come baby, cradle and all”). But millions of little ones have dozed off contentedly to the sweet melody that delivers the threatening news.  

Well, researchers at Ohio State University College of Public Health and Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education have their own take on bedtime threats. Their study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, reveals that only 10 percent of preschoolers who go to bed before 8pm become obese as teens, while 16 percent of those with bedtimes between 8pm and 9pm and 23 percent of those who hit the hay after 9pm do! 

According to head researcher, epidemiologist Sarah Anderson, making sure your preschooler is in bed before 8pm is something “families can do to lower their child’s risk [of obesity] and it’s also likely to have positive benefits on behavior and on social, emotional and cognitive development.”  

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says children ages three to five should sleep 10 to 13 hours in every 24 hour period (including naps). We think you show love for your children by getting them to bed at the appropriate time. So we suggest Mom and Dad warm up their pipes around 7:30 and try singing Golden Slumbers (much sweeter lyrics): “Cares you know not, therefore sleep/While over you a watch I'll keep. Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry/And I will sing a lullaby.”

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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